Science Fiction, Religion, and Spirituality

A recent article at IO9 discusses the experience of encountering religion and spirituality primarily through science fiction films. Here’s the conclusion:

When I think about what I get out of science fiction, I think back to Star Trek and an unlikely source for spirituality. One of the ironies of Trek is that the alien civilization most associated with logic is also one of the most spiritual. The famed Vulcan control of emotions belies a deep inner life, with a philosophy that has echoes of stoicism, Zen Buddhism and Leonard Nimoy’s own Orthodox Jewish background. The most famous Vulcan phrase, “live long and prosper,” is a practical blessing for a logical people, offering no more than peace in this life. But it’s a good idea to live by.

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  • Matt Brown

    Dr.McGrath, I was thinking about studying the NT and becoming a scholar. Do you think I can do it?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      There is no way for me to assess that via blog comments. You would need to start on the relevant course of studies, and get the professors with whom you study to provide their perspective on whether this seems to them a realistic goal.

      • Matt Brown

        Oh okay, Thanks! Even though I differ with you on some of your views, your blog has helped me taken a greater interest in Biblical studies

  • D Rizdek

    I guess there are differences in folks ability/propensity/desire to “see” or “feel” spiritual things. I’ve been chided in discussions by folks who pass off my unbelief as due to the fact that I’m not “spiritual.” To which I resoundingly answer, “Correct.” I really don’t think I get it.

    I have posted on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). One set of films I’ve discussed are the “Jane Eyre” adaptations. One person claimed that reading Jane Eyre was a spiritual uplifting activity I don’t get that. I struggled through the book just to say I read it…but never again and I didn’t enjoy it. It certainly wasn’t spiritually uplifting.

    Some go out and are spiritually renewed by hiking or viewing beautiful mountains. I don’t feel it. I like to hike and look at mountains, but there’s nothing spiritual there AFAIK.

    So what happens when someone likes me reads the Bible. I don’t see deep hidden meaning. I read the words, I interpret them literally (except for the poetry and parables) and am not impressed. I don’t understand why I should even try to see any spiritual meaning beyond the words. If there IS some real meaning there and not just a figment of someone’s imagination, then at best I’d say I’m “spirit-blind.” Just as the person who is color blind can’t see colors (or certain colors) no matter how hard they try. And does the Bible suggest this lack of spiritual interest/awareness is going to cost me in some after life God has planned for me? Most might think I’m missing out on things here in this life? I’m not looking for sympathy just discussion.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      There is actually some evidence that the “mystical feeling” that seems to be at the heart of religious experience has a genetic basis. Have you read Dean Hamer’s book, The God Gene? It deals with that very subject. I would add that, despite the comparison with color blindness, it isn’t easy to say that one or the other has a more advantageous perspective on reality. But they are different, in interesting ways, and ones that sometimes make conversations across the differences frustrating! :-)


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